How to host a sustainable Christmas lunch

Simple ways to make your Christmas lunch more sustainable.
Simple ways to make your Christmas lunch more sustainable.  Photo: Getty.

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From spending precious time with family, giving and receiving gifts to indulging in food, this time of year brings joy and merriment to many.

It is also a period of peak consumption where we put on our most indulgent spread of the year. But it's not too late to start thinking of ways to reduce waste, both before and after the main event.

According to SecondBite, Australians generated 7.3 billion kilograms of food waste last year. That's a $20 billion cost to the economy, not to mention the 5 per cent contribution to greenhouse emissions from food production and transport.

Fortunately, it doesn't take much time or effort to make your Christmas lunch more sustainable. Here, SecondBite co-founder Simone Carson shares her tips to help decrease waste while saving money in the process.

Plan ahead and keep it simple

The days leading up to Christmas come with their own wrought of pressure and stress, so there's no need to make the big lunch more difficult than it should be.

"Plan your meal, ask attending family members what they like to eat, and keep it simple this year," explains Carson.

"When you plan meals, you buy what you need, which reduces waste and saves you money in the long run. This year has been nothing short of stressful, which is why it's more important than ever to have a simple Christmas lunch that is still special to your family."

Get the family involved

Christmas Day is about spending time with family – all the more reason to get members involved in sourcing and preparing the meal.

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"Sharing the responsibility of lunch makes it less stressful for the host and brings a touch of gratitude to the table, knowing that everyone's contribution resulted in an enjoyable meal," says Carson.

"Get the kids involved – they can look up recipes, write down the foods they think everyone would like and tag along with the grocery shopping."

Getting the kids involved can create less stress.

Getting the kids involved can create less stress. Photo: Getty.

Quality over quantity

Do you need a whole turkey for four people? Go for quality over quantity and opt for a smaller chicken or seafood dish instead, suggests Carson.

"The trick is to find something everyone will enjoy and the best way to do that is to ask attendees," she says.

"And now is a great time to support local businesses by buying Australian produce." Less miles to your plate means less impact on the environment.

Make conscious choices

Apart from planning and delegating duties it's important to understand where food originates.

Sustainable shopping expert and founder of Banish, Lottie Dalziel, says it's easy to do if you know how to decode packaging and labels.

"Look for a fair-trade certification on products such as chocolate and coffee and the blue tick on seafood, which indicates there was no overfishing and the product is sustainable," explains Dalziel.

"Organic is always a good option as are meat products that are RSPCA Approved."

If a product is RSPCA Approved it means the animals have benefited from higher welfare conditions. All Coles fresh Aussie turkeys, for example, are RSPCA Approved.

"Another thing to look out for is the chickens per hectare indication on cage-free egg cartons – you want the lowest number," says Dalziel.

Be smart about leftovers

Even with meticulous planning, there are bound to be leftovers.

"The most important step is to make sure your fridge and freezer is empty before Christmas," suggests Carson.

"This leaves you more room to freeze and refrigerate leftovers in clear glass containers, that way you can easily see what's inside and are more likely to use it."

Encourage guests to bring their own containers from home to take away leftover food so the merriment can continue.

Marinated with a blend of sea salt and seasoning, Coles Finest Turkeys are 100% RSPCA Approved and Free Range from the Hunter Valley. Fresh turkeys will be available in Coles supermarkets from 18th December for the perfect Christmas centrepiece. Head to coles.com.au/christmas to help make your Christmas a little easier, so you can enjoy Christmas the Australian Way.

Coles have also partnered with SecondBite for a good cause – this Christmas, you can help those in need by purchasing a $2 Thank You Donation Card at any Coles supermarket checkout or by donating at Coles Online and every dollar raised will go directly to Redkite and SecondBite.